Scarlett Arcade debut EP ‘Machines’ reviewed

Scarlett Arcade, quite simply, are going to be the next big thing to come from Stoke-on-Trent. Though numerous acts from the city are having various amounts of success, none capture the essence of ‘new’ music quite like this modernised 80’s electronic group. The band’s debut EP ‘Machines’ is a small exhibition of highly thought out tunes, with ‘Drive’ being a track which, with its intriguing intro and beautiful lyrics from a beautiful voice, instantly makes you feel like you are the anti-hero of an American movie, and the introduction to ‘Light’s offers very much the same feeling. Hard-hitting drum beats and well thought out melodies are the order of the day with Scarlett Arcade, with title track ‘Machines’ displaying this with vigor.
‘Machines’ is a song which immediately strikes you as one of the most finely produced piece’s of music to emerge from Stoke-on-Trent for quite some time, such is the time and effort given by this intense and passionate band, who show a likeness to artists such as College and Electric Youth and, if this debut EP is anything to go by, will no doubt have many successful days ahead of them. Scarlett Arcade are the freshest, most unique and intelligent act to emerge from Stoke-on-Trent and their music is a must have in any music fans collection.

Lee Barber
Radical’s Rising
6 Towns Radio

Bromheads @ Sugarmill 26.04.13

For a fairly new band, Native Tropics have gathered a healthy fan based and a structured ‘indie’ sound. With abstract and cryptic themes within the witty lyrics, Arctic Monkeys come to mind as a main influence.  With Luke’s hair gelled in place and everyone cramped on only half of the Sugarmill stage it was a watchable performance. There is likeliness for these loveable, yet unidentified foursome, their striking personalities seep either through their skill or look, things are looking high for Native Tropics, as it you would be if you put vodka in your teacup.

After witnessing The Ruby Dukes numerous times over the past month, Road to Blissfield’s, Birmingham 02 and this gig, each time they steal the show and give the crowd something to remember as well as a new vibrant shirt and a pair of Chelsea boots. As The Ruby Dukes got the biggest crowd of the night, it got a more buzzing atmosphere going on. Each duke has a different style; it gives that punch of originality in the Stoke-on-Trent music scene. Paper Sunset deserves hats off each time they perform. Energy is pulsating. Melody is intense.

Initially, Bromhead Jackets now Bromheads, headline the Sugarmill; 2 males, 1 guitar, 1 drum, big sound. The pair definitely left behind their raucous reputation for everyone to remember. Killer riffs, distorted beats and clever lyrics. Poppy Bird was a track the majority of the crowd knew and loved. The Ruby Dukes have a new profession – Bromhead’s backing singers. Throughout the set, front man, Tim had an amicable sense of humour and personality which gave Bromheads a diverse approach; one to rock out too and one to laugh around with.

LC

Record Day @ Music Mania And Alfa 9 @ The Sugarmill 20.04.2013

It was Record Store Day; to celebrate, Music Mania had array of local musicians playing acoustic sets in the daytime. Vellocet and Alfa 9 were two of them. It was hard to imagine the spaghetti strings of psychedelia in Vellocet acoustically; but they pulled it off in a way no one could have done. Alfa 9 gathered a healthy crowd to entertain and promote the new album, Gone to Ground.

 Night time arose and Record Store Day was being celebrated at The Sugarmill with Kadence kicking the night off. The shared vocals throughout the set gave two different sides to Kadence. One is more of a 70s rock howling scream whereas the other is more mellow but hints of gritty rock. Kadence seem to give off this American, cocky vibe whenever I watch them; the language, the sunglasses and their attitudes sum it up. Kadence throughout On the Run have good guitar control from Jak Lancett but the drumming becomes too powerful for their guitar/bass melody.

Amps up full blast, guitar pedals at the ready, drum kit in place and electric bass on. Vellocet were back to normal. You know a band is quality when they start with an instrumental and still grab the audience. Nimbus which has been recently recorded again by Vellocet fixated all eyes upon themselves and their talent. Tracks such as Through the Barrel and Cosmic Blues have solid psychedelic, rock, gritty melodies and vocals. Cosmic Blues has an awesome fixed structure which Vellocet have experimented with; listening to the newer tracks gets me wondering what this up and coming album will sound like. Kaleidoscope isn’t just a title of a song it’s a description too. If you didn’t think Vellocet were mesmerizing enough, this sends you to another dimension with a staggering hike, massive kick of music then pushes you over the edge into a world only real music lovers get locked up in. Despite the crowd not being a sell out, they adored this four piece, and after the peak of Sahara it came to an unexpected end. Echoes of an encore didn’t persuade the Sugarmill but quality set to say the least.

Having a longer set than others, Alfa 9 play tracks from Gone To Ground and debut album Then We Begin. Opening the set with El Morocco highlights the concept of their talent in harmonies and mixing genres and eras together- faultlessly. Alfa 9, from watching their old tracks too, including; For Your Bones and Deadman shows the increasing sophisticated experimentation Alfa 9 create from influence to folk, country, psychedelia and indie. Old Man Blues will always be my personal favourite. The 60s bluesy, pop, folk feel, guitar skill, randomness of lyrics is similar to The Beatles and so amazing to see Alfa 9 at their best. Seedless, the former Radicals Rising Hype Chart number 1 is beautiful; harmonies are like a piece of silk that adds comfort to your whole body.

Campstag @ The Ruby Lounge 14.04.2013

After a rather exciting announcement quite late in the run up to Adam Green’s headline show at The Ruby Lounge in Manchester, Campstag hit up the illustrious and quaint venue without a nervous streak about them. Or at least any nerves within the band were concealed greatly. Probably the excitement was much stronger. As an avid fan of Adam Green, it might usually be a pretty daunting task to make a review concentrating on a Stoke-on-Trent based support act, but this is certainly not the case tonight. Campstag. The band of the moment. The band whose sound promised so much before a sound was even heard. And now they are living up to the expectation and finding themselves in a brilliant position to take control across the country. And boy are they showing the potential tonight.

Opening with Matillda Please, the attention grabbing synth intro from Ade, followed up by the tight bass and drum from Chris and Rich respectively, immediately sets up the night, and this is before Dan brings out his eerie, arty vocals. One definite factor in Campstag’s highly addictive songs is the melodies which Dan Nixon brings to the table with gust in his lyrics, though it must be stated that Dan’s vocals seemed to be rather quiet at the very beginning of each song, though chances are this was caused on the side of the sound guys, not the band itself. The dynamics in the opening track, and throughout the set with Call It The Flame, Northern Dream and When The Lights Come Down are of the upmost intelligence, and are executed with precision so stunningly that Chris Wilson merely needs to stroke the ‘root notes’, as it were, in order to achieve a more than desired affect, such is the professionalism in this band. (Though Chris’ dad-at-a-wedding foot shuffling during one song leaves a little to be desired, which obviously needed no encouragement to be pounced upon by Radical’s Rising). We’ll assume that the talented bass player was merely caught up in the excitement of the outstanding set and atmosphere the band were creating, in front of a very appreciative crowd at The Ruby Lounge, something which is humbling to see for an unsigned band from Stoke playing in such a great musical city. I say unsigned rather lightly, it’s surely only a matter of time for these guys?

Besides these incredible songs on show from Campstag here tonight, it is still Sirens which takes the trophy. The bands first single, and the song giving the boys their debut play on Radio One, still puts every crowd right into the bands pocket, with the classy, sophisticated synth work teaming up nicely with drum and bass, right up until the climatic drop of the song, where Rich lets rip on his drum kit and Dan unleashes an 80’s styled reverb effect guitar, and of course, Chris dances in an even more happy trance.

Radical’s Rising said it back in March 2012, and we shall say it again. Where there’s a Dooley, there’s incredible music from Stoke-on-Trent.

Jar Music Live presents Midlands “One’s To Watch” @ O2 Birmingham 13/04/13

Jar Music Live Presented Midlands best “Ones To Watch” 13th April. Acts like; Big Tent and The Gypsy Lantern a folk indie band, Neon Rouge a blues band, Post Descartes a progressive rock, The Ruby’s an indie band, Fake Obsession a rock band, The Concept a rock band, The Ruby Dukes an indie rock band and Thousand Fingers a melodic rock band all graced the O2 academy stage. With a range in style and sound, each personality in the room was in for a treat.

A band full of guitars, timbales, ukuleles, squeeze boxes, trumpets, electronics and array of percussion was sure to catch people attention as they walked through the door. Big Tent and The Gypsy Lantern is a folk indie band that creates beautiful textures of sounds to deliver one that is surely unique. Big Tent and The Gypsy Lantern have made it into the 120 long list of Glastonbury emerging talent competition, good luck lads!

Neon Rouge was just one of the bands from Stoke to hit this line up. They stood out like a sore thumb but in a sense of they were unique to the genres played that night. New tracks like Venus Flytrap and Break Jaw Blues have a contrasting sound to previous tracks such as; Fistycuffs. Lyrics, bass and riffs have stepped up in maturity. They go recording 21st April, keep them eyes peeled for Venus Flytrap and share it.

An alternative take on rock, Post Descartes show off their mixed genre tracks, the techno sound came as a shock from the image of this band but they succeeded in it. 1st June is there EP release date and they have a new video on You Tube. Post Descartes are an interesting band to watch.

From Manchester, The Ruby’s have that stereotypical indie rock sound. Their debut album, Limelight Parasite had alot of positive feedback, after listening to them live, it became apparent why. The Ruby’s have that catchy indie riff that gets your head bobbing. With a stable fan base, this Manchester based band look successful in gaining a national maybe worldwide fan base.

Rock band, female fronted, Fake Obsession didn’t tickle my music taste buds but they certainly have people loving them. Heads were rocking out and echoes of the lyrics were shouted. As for supporting McFly they are getting their name known already. They have a professional music video which is sure to be checked out if you like a sort of heavy rock and female vocal together.

An EP recently released The Concept show off their heavy pop rock sound. Having big name gigs they are have been forever growing stronger. From influences like You Me At Six and Coldplay you can imagine the catch pop riffs and heavier vocals and drums. Catch them next at Lechlade Fest, May 24th.

As if Road to Blissfields wasn’t good enough, The Ruby Dukes left Birmingham on high note. Energy, confidence and raw talent never stops during each track. After alcohol had intoxicated most of The Ruby Dukes fans it was the wildest yet loved crowd of the night. Tracks such as; Love is my Fame (Submarine) and Come Show Me Love have catchy lyrics which majority of people in the academy sung along too. Newest track Paper Sunset always – without a doubt leaves a, ‘The Ruby Dukes were here’ stamp and this time, Birmingham. Next shows; supporting Bromheads 26th April then Catfish and Bottlemen at Full Moon 10th May.

Thousand Fingers the heaviest of the night managed by Fearless Managers weren’t my cup of tea but for those heavy rockers they took the roof off. They are coming up to a week tour with some awesome English and Welsh dates on from the 22nd April to 27th April. Their debut EP Memory is good to download if you like a good rocking out.

LC

 

Road To Blissfields @ The Sugarmill

Road To Blissfield’s took over local venue Sugarmill with 5
distinct, virtuoso local bands with local judges from BBC, The Sentinel to
Music Mania. As Clash Magazine said last year, “An enchanted weekend, more of
the same next year!” well Clash Magazine with winners Delamere joining the
London heats, your prediction may become true. With Mystery Jets (a personal
fan) headlining it creates a picture of what type of music Blissfield’s were
looking for.

Kicking off the well organised night, was popular indie band
The Ruby Dukes. With a short set of only five tracks, The Ruby Dukes, flowed
smoothly into each track, tracks which showed off each style these lads can
produce and succeed in. “Sugarmill your ace”. Right back at you, Zak. With the
different personalities within the band the connection is shown perfectly on
stage, seeing a band enjoying themselves makes the set a whole lot better.
Paper Sunset saluted the dukes as the best performance I’ve ever seen them. The
ultimate psychedelic rock outro saw Mike on the floor, Zak bouncing, Josh and
Rick face to face and Ollie uncontrollable. Spot on lads.

Faux Feet, by the
name, has originality hitting you right in the face let alone the alternative music.
With Sian as the only female in the band, with a gifted vocals as well as eccentric, artist
stage presence, Faux Feet are becoming notorious.  Not missing the melody
of the band, tinkling cymbals, gentle plucking and deep bass was noticeable in
track Battlefields.

Psychedelic maniac’s Psyence had the shortest set of 4
tracks, tracks which consist between 3-8 marvellous minutes. If the music isn’t
engaging enough, Ben completes it with his amusing yet entertaining stage
presence. Smoke was humming throughout their set, giving that mysterious what-will-happen-
next approach to the scene. Newest track, Forbidden Fruits has a breakdown of bass riffs which
captivated that enigmatic meaning to tracks. Psyence still have that
mesmerizing factor about them.

Delamere put a show on to remember, hip hope
entrance, darkness, smoke and giant party poppers. They pulled out all the
stops for this gig; you could really see the passion they had towards getting
the Blissfield’s vote. With James having a single drum to himself as well as a
full drum kit, Hearts began with a bang. Delamere have a clever talent of
changing from a heavy beat to a subtle soft tone. They left the stage on a high
with an immense, intriguing solo and explosion of confetti to hint to
Blissfield they have confident passion to put on a festival show.

The Road to
Blissfield’s, Stoke heats came to an end with rock grunge band, Troops of
Mafeking. They as a four piece make alot of noise and put on an energetic
performance. Track DISCO, seemed a popular one with the fans. At points in the
set, drummer, Josh, had a bit too much power which led to over taking the
vocals, overall his stamina is pretty impressive for the drumming technique
Josh has. New track, now up for free download Chugg Berris still had those
heavy influences but a lighter vocal tone than in previous tracks.

It was
certainly a night full of serious competition. I, personal would like to
congratulate Delamere for grabbing that chance to compete in London with
Guildford’s local band Luxe.

Six Towns EP Welcome To Asylum

Plans are going to be made distinct for this rock’n’roll band during 2013. With this recorded EP, it will start their musical year off with a storm of love and interest. Being nominated for the MTV Brand New and Unsigned award has put a spring in their musical step; scattering more than just these six towns of Stoke-on-Trent.

From the first one and half minutes you are intoxicated by; the intense repetitive drum beat and eerie guitar riffs. Up, up and up, Stop the World builds, it builds at a highest point, a point where it becomes uncontrollable to imagine, and then a swift fall towards Matt on bass which questionable is the time to go mental. (Plus Liam’s queue to walk on stage) Gritty vocals give Six Towns that mighty rock’n’roll stamp on their musical CV. ‘Da da da da daaaa’ repeating, makes it a catchy rock anthem.

Sharp drumming, concise riffs both organised in a repeated call and response effect, it’s Mistress Mysterious. Anthem approached poetic lyrics. Oasis-like; simple, memorable and genius. Harmonies from bassist Matt slot into Liam’s vocals faultlessly.

Jack the Ripper transports us back to the late 80’s earlier 90’s when rock and rave fanatics would jump in a muddy field and enjoy the music intensify after the next alcoholic drink. The punk inspired indie boom sound is created by the endless indie strumming that keeps the trusty six strings in full view. Liam and Matt’s vocals have a genuine attitude as well as their stage presence live. The constant whisk up of both voices is high sophisticatedly bound together.

Asylum alienates the musical avalanche they create through the last 3 songs. The computerised speech and sighs of keyboard jolt Six Towns in a collision with electronic rock, yet the driven beats, smashing cymbals, contagious riffs; forceful bass fastens  them securely on the rock basis configuration It’s every rockist inclination to initiate their adventure along Six Towns way. Six Towns have let their guard down and dissolved this track into a freak out prolonged passage which climax’s before continuing to that casual facade and fantasy driven, enthusiastic talent. 

LC

The Rivalry @ Fat Cats Cafe Bar 30.03.2013

After a lengthy wait and with much anticipation, The Alcucinors Acoustic Duo take to the stage in Fatcats. Their soft and easy tone filled the room and they were very much a crowd pleaser with their mellow and breezy songs plus a cheeky Beatles cover. The shared vocals of the two boys, Dave Hannah and Jake Kimberley work well together to create their unique sound; which mixed with the two guitars creates harmonious and broad music.
Dirty Rotten Souls were up next and what can I say? Dirty by name and dirty by nature; their gritty sound and deep bass guitar riffs really scream out to the audience. The drums were slightly overpowering at times and the vocals got slightly lost along the way but it was a tight performance and I liked how their set was continuous and the songs were linked together through bass riffs; it really kept the audience listening.
The Ruby Dukes have a really good connection with each other, which is clear from their stage presence and musicianship. With a strong intro and intricate guitar riffs the set had a good pace and the layers of the music really shone through.
The Rivalry were the headline act of the night and they definitely gave the most lively performance of the evening. They all have a really good sense of musicianship and their catchy and repetitive choruses really got the audience going, it was obvious that both the band and the audience were there to have a great time. Strong and hard vocals came from Rob Hawthorne and the set was definitely well rehearsed as the band had a very much polished sound.

MG

Dead Sons @ Sugarmill 30.03.13

Though perhaps a surprising addition to this gig, The Rat Race repay the faith put in them by The Sugarmill by giving what many will see as their best performance yet. The Sugarmill’s very own Chris Wilson hails ‘The Beatles Did It First as the best chorus knocking around Stoke at the moment, and as the band prance around on stage dressed fully clad in outfits which mirror slightly the early years of the fantastic four from Liverpool, the song has a slight tinge of cunning irony. New tune F#*k Knows might have trouble getting radio play, but it is easily the most intelligent song they have produced do far, highlighting the fact that this is a band which improves as it goes along the long and winding road of the music scene.The Rat Race may not have instantly hit all the right notes since they formed last year, but they are certainly finding their way now. Tom Baker on guitar, again quoting Mr Wilson, has a really modern guitar, and though Grant Foster is a front man with clear similarities to another local front man, he is also very much finding his own groove, as is drummer Brad Gurney, who played his tighest set to date on the infamous stage of The Sugarmill tonight. The Rat Race have their doubters, as does every band, and I will admit that as a music fan, I have struggled on occasion to take to the bands sound, but this gig supporting Dead Sons tonight has proven that they need to be taken more seriously, as The Rat Race are beginning to mean business.

LB

6 piece and forever growing in people and sound; Neon Rouge set high standards of good music. After the departure of Conroy, new bassist, former member of OK.Coral Jamie has taken over. The impact of a new bassist has given Neon Rouge a more devious bluesy style. Brand new, not just new but BRAND new, never played in public before, only in Kieran and Jon’s basement hideaway; Venus Flytrap has, personally rose above my expectation.  Psychotic blues seeps through the Break Jaw Blues rhythmic pattern, the subtle kick in shows that you don’t have to be loud and cocky too create a blinding track. An acoustic setting on high, Black Mamba goes on in full swing. Kieran and Charlotte’s harmonies together give out subtle inflections of pitch which explains and conveys the music emotion. The set was cut short, but they left stage with an echo of the addictive beat and one line lyric ‘Beware of the Big Foot’.  Up and coming EP, Sea Box Wasp Jellyfish, has the odds of being a treasure.

Intimidation came to mind as Dead Sons travelled from the balcony to the stage. Even the image says it all. After doing their biggest show ever supporting Arctic Monkeys in 2011, Dead Sons haven’t stopped. As I put my phone away and focus entirely on the band, the power of music and distinct performance easily made my list for best live performance and sound of 2013. Some people would say it was noise but to complete the honesty its genius noise. Hearing tracks from Hollers & The Hymns through computer speakers is a change around to hearing it live. Double the pounding drums and the Alex Turner enhanced vocals are incredibly entertaining.

LC